SiphoPilime.jpgWhen it comes to integration into corporate supply chains, most suppliers are unhappy with the current state of play in South Africa.

While most entrepreneurs dream of securing corporate clients and establishing mutually beneficial and fruitful long-term supply relationships, only a handful of suppliers polled by Enterprise and Supplier Development organisation The Hope Factory, said they are satisfied with the prospects available from corporates.

In fact, SMME suppliers that exhibited at the Absa Enterprise Development Expo said networking with other exhibiting suppliers to create business links often bore more fruit. “Collaborating with a community of like-minded small businesses is an indispensible asset to an entrepreneur,” said a number of exhibitor entrepreneurs associated with The Hope Factory.

Despite this, accessing corporate supply chains remains SMMEs’ primary reason for exhibiting at platforms such as the Absa Enterprise Development Expo.

Get them talking

While entrepreneurs were discussing the above views at the Expo, corporate supply chain professionals were discussing procurement challenges relating to SMMEs at the co-located Enterprise Development Grow Conference.

Government and the private sector have expended a great deal of effort to build an environment that supports, in particular, black-owned businesses in South Africa. Central to this is B-BBEE legislation and amendments, which place greater emphasis on supplier development. Various initiatives have also been undertaken to provide funding support to qualifying entrepreneurs.

However, much needs to be done to achieve the desired results and the role of small business incubators and “Enterprise Development organisations such as The Hope Factory are key”, says Business Mentor, Sipho Pilime.

Competency and capacity are key obstacles preventing the integration of small suppliers into corporate supply chains, according to a number of supply chain managers that attended the Expo. “An ability to deliver is a clear starting point in this conundrum – and there is no quick fix”, says Pilime.

Quite simply, South Africa cannot afford to fail in its efforts to develop a viable, effective and sustainable small business sector. One merely has to look at our current economic growth rates and forecasts, and the continued struggle against unemployment.

We need a cohesive plan to facilitate merit-based participation by our SMMEs in corporate supply chains, which can only be achieved through open dialogue amongst key stakeholders, including supply chain professionals and small business incubators, noted Pilime.

For more information contact The Hope Factory.